News | Published November 7, 2012

South African surgeons observe operations at Mount Nittany Medical Center

It could be called a cross-cultural exchange or peer-to-peer teaching, or even study abroad. Regardless of its name, the result is the same. Two South African surgeons traveled half way around the world to watch State College surgeon Kenneth Cherry, MD, University Orthopedics, perform knee replacement surgeries at Mount Nittany Medical Center with the purpose of improving their skill and knowledge.

"I hope to come away with tips and tricks from an experienced surgeon. It is an invaluable experience," said Nick Cocciuti, orthopaedic surgeon from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Dr. Cocciuti and his colleague Phillip de Lange, MD, orthopaedic surgeon from Pretoria, South Africa spent several days at Mount Nittany Medical Center this fall watching Dr. Cherry implement the proprietary technology, Visionaire system, developed by Smith and Nephew, Inc., Reconstruction and Trauma.

This technology uses the MRI and X-ray scan of a patient to create a patient-specific block. A 3-D model of the knee helps to develop surgical instruments and guides, which are designed and built, mapping out specific bone cuts to accurately align the implants.

"The new technology allows the surgeon to be involved in pre-op planning. The 3-D model of the patient's knee is created through the scan. It is then sent to Memphis, built and shipped back to the surgeon. Adjustments the surgeon might make can be sent back and approved within 48 hours," said Cocciuti.

The two surgeons expressed enjoyment and appreciation of their visit to State College, and the United States. Dr. deLange said, "It was wonderful to see the surgical team, and the spacious, clean and expanding Medical Center."

Dr. Cocciuti said he was told prior to coming on his trip that autumn was spectacular in Pennsylvania, and he was not disappointed. He also planned a trip to the Grand Canyon while in the states.